Skip to main content


Sabres-Capitals Preview @NHL

The Buffalo Sabres have already clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but their final two regular-season games are hardly meaningless.

The Sabres look to move closer to winning their first Presidents' Trophy and set a franchise record for victories in a season when they visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Buffalo (52-21-7) already has home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs, but closed in on opening a potential Stanley Cup finals series at home with Thursday's 4-2 win over Boston.

The Sabres moved into a tie for first place in the NHL standings after Western Conference-leading Detroit lost 3-2 in a shootout at Chicago on Thursday. Each team has 111 points, but Buffalo has a game in hand.

The Red Wings host the Blackhawks in their regular-season finale on Saturday, while Buffalo visits NHL-worst Philadelphia Sunday.

The Sabres matched the franchise record for victories set last season on Thursday as Ryan Miller stopped 22 shots to win his team-record 39th game.

"(The record for wins) will mean more once the season's over and I get 16 more in the playoffs," Miller told the team's official Web site. "That's really what it comes down to. It's been a great season and I've had a lot of fun, but our focus is starting to turn a bit."

The Sabres, who have never won a Stanley Cup in their 36-year history, lost to Carolina in seven games in the conference finals last season.

Buffalo trailed the Bruins 2-0 in the first period Thursday before scoring four unanswered goals. The Sabres became just the fourth team in the past 30 years to win 10 games in a season in which it trailed by two goals.

"It shows good character," said Miller, who has won his last four starts, posting a 2.52 goals-against average in those contests. "We feel like we're in every hockey game. As long as we can stay close and stay composed."

Miller has won both of his starts against the Capitals (28-39-14) this season, allowing five goals in those games. Sabres captain Chris Drury, meanwhile, has three goals and four assists in three games against Washington while Thomas Vanek, who leads Buffalo with 42 goals, has two goals and three assists in those contests.

Vanek, who scored twice and added an assist against Boston, has five goals and three assists in his last four games.

Washington beat Atlanta 3-2 on Wednesday and has won back-to-back games following a six-game skid. The Capitals have not won three straight since Jan. 4-9.

"For us, it's a character win," coach Glen Hanlon said.

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals on Wednesday and is within reach of a couple of milestones. He needs two goals in this game to reach 100 for his two-year career and is also two points shy of 200.

Washington needs to record one point in this game to finish with more points than it did last season (70).

Sabres center Tim Connolly could return to action this weekend after not playing since last season's playoffs due to a concussion. Connolly, who experienced a setback in his recovery six weeks ago when he broke a bone below his knee, went through a rigorous on-ice workout Friday.

"I'm optimistic," he said. "I'm getting excited each day."

Buffalo lost 7-4 at Washington on Dec. 2, snapping a four-game winning streak at the Verizon Center.

View More